Denileukin diftitox (DAB-IL-2, Ontak) is a diphtheria-toxin–based fusion protein that depletes CD25-positive cells including regulatory T cells and has been approved for the treatment of persistent or recurrent cutaneous T cell lymphoma. However, the clinical use of denileukin diftitox was limited by vascular leak toxicity and production issues related to drug aggregation and purity. We found that a single amino acid substitution (V6A) in a motif associated with vascular leak induction yields a fully active, second-generation biologic, s-DAB-IL-2(V6A), which elicits 50-fold less human umbilical vein endothelial cell monolayer permeation and is 3.7-fold less lethal to mice by LD 50 analysis than s-DAB-IL-2. Additionally, to overcome aggregation problems, we developed a production method for the fusion toxin using Corynebacterium diphtheriae that secretes fully folded, biologically active, monomeric s-DAB-IL-2 into the culture medium. Using the poorly immunogenic mouse B16F10 melanoma model, we initiated treatment 7 days after tumor challenge and observed that, while both s-DAB-IL-2(V6A) and s-DAB-IL-2 are inhibitors of tumor growth, the capacity to treat with higher doses of s-DAB-IL-2(V6A) could provide a superior activity window. In a sequential dual-therapy study in tumors that have progressed for 10 days, both s-DAB-IL-2(V6A) and s-DAB-IL-2 given before checkpoint inhibition with anti–programmed cell death-1 (anti–PD-1) antibodies inhibited tumor growth, while either drug given as monotherapy had less effect. s-DAB-IL-2(V6A), a fully monomeric protein with reduced vascular leak, is a second-generation diphtheria-toxin–based fusion protein with promise as a cancer immunotherapeutic both alone and in conjunction with PD-1 blockade.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Feb 19 2019|
- Cancer immunotherapy
- Fusion toxin
ASJC Scopus subject areas